The most recurring iconic photo of the US war in Viet Nam included the helicopter.
There were the pictures of street assassinations and a young girl running along dirt roads, burned and naked, but nothing had the pure propaganda value of the downed chopper.
There is a reason for that and we have touched on it many times here at The Elephant. The US edge in the planning and conduct of warfare is in technology. It is our ability to shock and awe with overwhelming superior weaponry. Pictures and stories of downed planes and choppers have a psychological impact on supporters and those opposed to the war.
It is like many things in war, of minimum military significance but in the war of images conducted on the internet, it is of immense propaganda value. It is the new body count, except this time the bodies are awkward hulks of downed helicopters.
Fifth U.S. chopper in 18 days goes down in Iraq
POSTED: 8:22 a.m. EST, February 7, 2007
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. military sent a quick reaction force to the site of downed helicopter about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.
The downed chopper is a CH-46 Sea Knight, and the cause of the crash is unknown, said U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell. He did not provide further detail.
Two witnesses told Reuters they saw a twin-rotor Chinook transport helicopter crash amid gunfire from the ground Wednesday.
The Chinook and Sea Knight are similar twin-rotor helicopters, and according to Boeing, which manufactures the choppers, the Chinook was designed for the Army while the Sea Knight was produced for the Navy.
Four U.S. helicopters -- three military and one civilian -- were shot down in Iraq between January 20 and Friday, raising concerns that insurgents are becoming more proficient at downing the aircraft. Sixteen U.S. troops were killed in the three military chopper crashes.
The Senate Armed Services Committee raised the issue Tuesday during a hearing on the military budget.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, asked Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace if the helicopter attacks mean "that enemy forces have achieved some higher level of capability with shoulder-fired missiles."
Pace responded that it was his understanding that the choppers were shot down with small arms, not missiles.
He further said each incident is investigated and "at this point and time, I do not know whether or not it is the law of averages that caught up with us or if there's been a change in tactics, techniques and procedures on the part of the enemy, which is what the investigation will do."